Daily Bible Reading

Opportunity knocks

OPPORTUNITY: Fit or convenient time; a time favorable for the purpose; suitable time combined with other favorable circumstances

Opportunity sounds like a good thing to me. Who wouldn’t want a time favourable for a purpose? Who wouldn’t want favourable circumstances?

Many people, though, through the misguidance of others or through their own ignorance aren’t even aware of the greatest opportunity that will ever be offered on this side of eternity.

The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by crucifying him. Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this to give the people of Israel an opportunity to turn from their sins and turn to God so their sins would be forgiven.

Acts 5:30-31 (NLT)

Jesus died to give us an opportunity—a suitable time combined with favourable circumstances—to turn from our sins and turn to God so we can be forgiven. When is that opportune time? Right now. It is always right now.

For God says,

“At just the right time I heard you.
On the day of salvation, I helped you.”

Indeed, God is ready to help you right now. Today is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:2 (NLT)

Today is the day of salvation. Today. Right now. This moment. For one reason or another, there are a great many people who believe that they must wait to receive salvation. That they have to somehow make themselves better in order to be even offered the gift. Nothing could be further from the truth! The gift has already been offered. The opportunity given. The only thing that can prevent anyone from receiving the gift is themselves by not reaching out and accepting it.

Too many people have made salvation far more complicated than it really is.

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:9 (NLT)

Can it get any more simple than that? Stop waiting for the right time. The right time is now! Jesus is waiting for you with open arms in whatever state you’re in at this very moment. Go answer the door because opportunity is knocking.

Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

Revelation 3:20 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: Esther 4-6, Acts 5:17-42

Daily Bible Reading

Bonus post: Already passed

When you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, did you feel any different? Did you feel invincible? As though you could take on anything and triumph? Did you feel as though you’d live forever? If you felt any of that, how long did it last?

Ask anyone who’s been a Christian for more than ten years. Odds are that they do not feel invincible. I can guarantee they’ve aged since their conversion. And they’ve probably failed at more than a few things.

After being in the faith for a while, verses that claim we are more than conquerors can become challenging to truly believe. We may even begin to doubt what the Bible says about us, yet wait for the day when we can claim eternal life.

But did you know that, if you’ve accepted the incredible gift of salvation, you are already alive? As in alive forever? Never to die. I don’t mean physically. I’m not sure I’d even want to live forever. But that moment when your spirit cries out to the Holy Spirit a miracle takes place. That dry, dead spirit is brought to life.

I assure you, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

John 4:24 (NLT)

Already passed. As in it’s happened. Done. Not something we need to wait for. Our eternal life doesn’t begin when we die. It begins when we come alive in Christ. Hey Church, let’s stop acting like dead people who have no life! We have the Way, the Truth, and the Life living inside of us! Because Jesus is alive, we’re alive.

Daily Bible Reading

I lay it down

We always talk about how Jesus was killed. He was murdered. He was put to death. But was he really?

When Jesus was finally sentenced to being flogged and crucified, the religious leaders thought they got the last laugh. They got what they wanted. The man who threatened their entire way of life would die. They would have him killed.

Read the scriptures again. Yes, Jesus was sentenced to death. Yes, Jesus was flogged. He was crucified. But was he actually murdered? Was he really put to death?

Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.

Luke 23:46 (NLT)

He shouted. As he hung on the cross in unbearable pain for crimes he did not commit, he shouted. He raised his voice so every ear in the vicinity could hear that he would not be put to death. He gave his life of his own volition.

How angry the Jewish leaders must have been. In the moment when they expected to finally be able to breathe that sigh of relief, the man they wanted to have killed made sure everyone knew his life was given willingly. And Jesus had to do so.

The Father loves me because I lay down my life that I may have it back again. No one can take my life from me. I lay it down voluntarily. For I have the right to lay it down when I want to and also the power to take it up again. For my Father has given me this command.

John 10:17-18 (NLT)

By proclaiming with his last breath that he was giving up his life into God’s hands, Jesus was fulfilling his own words. Those words took all power away from the men who put him on the cross. Little did they know that, in their anger and indignance, they played right into the plan of God. By putting Jesus on the cross, they fulfilled prophecy and gave the plan of salvation another big push toward fulfillment.

The next time you consider the account of the cross, keep in mind that, while Jesus died, he was not put to death. He laid down his life voluntarily. For me. For you.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 8-9, Luke 23:39-56 

Daily Bible Reading

They don’t know

If you were sentenced to death for a crime that you didn’t commit, how would you be acting? Would you go gracefully to the gallows or electric chair or, with every breath, scream out your innocence? Would you blame the system and your captors or would you calmly accept your fate?

It’s difficult to accept any sort of punishment or retribution for wrongdoing when you know you’re innocent of the crime. Even more so to do it with grace and dignity. Yet that is exactly what Jesus did.

He’d already been flogged and was carrying the beam of the cross where he would soon be nailed. People were yelling at him, calling out to him, and crying over him. He stops and tells them not to cry for him. When he finally makes it to The Skull, his hands and feet are pierced through and the cross is dropped into place.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive these people, because they don’t know what they are doing.”

Luke 23:34a (NLT)

Forgive them. Forgive them. Forgive them?! Even as he neared his final moments, Jesus somehow managed to keep his eyes on the prize. He knew he was innocent. He knew that the soldiers had been forced to do this to him. He knew that they, though not entirely innocent, deserved grace and forgiveness.

They may have known that they were putting an innocent man to death, but what they didn’t know is that they had a literal hand in the plan of salvation. The hands that wielded the hammers that pounded the nails through Jesus’ flesh were God-ordained. Without the callous men who held no qualms over killing an innocent man, Jesus never would have died. Never would have overcome death. Never would have risen. Never would be able to save the world.

Just because someone doesn’t know God or know what they’re doing doesn’t mean that their actions cannot be used of Him.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 6-7, Luke 23:27-38

Daily Bible Reading

Grab it by the horns

If you’ve read through the first two chapters of 1 Kings, perhaps you were as confounded as I at the talk of grabbing the horns of the altar. This is an odd occurrence—one I had not seen before now. There are several references to it, so it was time to dig into the commentaries.

It appears from this and some other instances, that it was now become a custom among the Israelites, though by no divine law, to flee to the altar of the Lord, as to an asylum.

Benson Commentary

Image result for child hiding behindThis is the picture in my head. When we were kids, behind Mom was the safest place to be when the rest of my siblings were after me. Yes, I’ve just likened my mother’s skirts to the horns on the altar of the Lord.

While this practice wasn’t law, it was highly symbolic and, in many cases, effective. Like a kid running to a parent, by clinging to the horns of the altar, salvation may be found.

As soon as Adonijah discovered David was after him, he rushed to the sacred tent. Likewise with Joab. Now, I understand than neither of these men were spared—their evil deeds had already sealed their fate, but what if we, like them, ran to the sacred place when we are being chased by our enemies? What would happen if we ran to God instead of whining or complaining to family, friends, or Facebook? If we would only cling to the altar, perhaps we, too, could find salvation.

Unlike Adonijah and Joab, when we grab the horns of the altar, we will find salvation. Over and over, God has proclaimed Himself to be faithful if only will we come near to Him. Run to Him. Rush to Him. Grab on to Him and don’t let go. As much of a shield of protection as your mother’s skirts could be, the presence of God is so much more.

The next time you hear the phrase, grab life by the horns, keep this in mind. Be reminded that to hold on to God is to hold on to your salvation.

Daily Bible reading: 1 Kings 1-2, Luke 22:54-71

Daily Bible Reading

The joy of salvation

Lately, we’ve been talking about eternity—the things that last forever. Our spirits last forever. Whether we chose Christ or not, we’re all in this for the long haul. God lasts forever. He’s been around forever, too. Jesus’ words last forever.

Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will remain forever.

Luke 21:33 (NLT)

There aren’t many things that last forever, but how much of our focus is set on those things rather than the things that will disappear? Have you set your priorities as such that your focus is on the things that you can take with you when you pass from this world, or are you hoarding all you can here, only to have to leave it behind when Jesus comes again?

Watch out! Don’t let me find you living in careless ease and drunkenness, and filled with the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, as in a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth.

Luke 21:34-35 (NLT)

When I was a kid, my parents were involved in serving at church every Sunday. That meant we had to leave earlier than most. We took one car. When it was time to leave, we all had to be in that car. There were no exceptions. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. We didn’t have the option of taking another vehicle (none of us kids were old enough to drive). Mom and Dad both had to be at church early, so it wasn’t as though one of them could come later with another vehicle. House rules stated that we go to church on Sunday. Again, no exceptions. Ready or not, we all leave at the same time.

Jesus drives the car (this is not a Jesus take the wheel kind of story). When Jesus pulls up to get us all, He’s only coming once. We can be sitting on the front step all dressed up and waiting for him or we can be rushing through our routine trying to make it out the door, toothbrush in hand. There is no second ride.

We can spend our lives dawdling around thinking we can rush through our preparations when the time comes or we can get ready now.

Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:2b (NLT)

We can make the temporary things of this world our priority, or we can turn our eyes toward the eternal and make the decision to say:

Restore to me again the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.

Psalm 51:12 (NLT)

Daily Bible reading: 2 Samuel 19-20, Luke 21:20-38

Daily Bible Reading

Out

No one likes to be publicly called out when they’ve done something wrong. We humans like to keep our shame to ourselves and out of the limelight. Social media has gone a long way to out our wrongdoings—real or perceived. Just because we can out someone doesn’t mean we should. And, on the flipside, just because we can hide our wrongs, doesn’t make it right.

The story of David and Bathsheba is one told often. Leonard Cohen (and countless others since) even sang about it in his popular song Hallelujah. We see a king go to extremes to obtain a beautiful woman. He commits adultery. He commits murder. He tries to hide it all.

Some might think that God was playing the bully when He sent the prophet Nathan to deal with David. Yes, David was mortified and probably enraged that he’d been found out. The payment for his sin was the death of his first child with Bathsheba. Hey God, that’s a little harsh, don’t you think?

David was the man God had anointed as a youth to be king over Israel. Since Samuel first poured oil on his head, David was accountable to a different set of standards (not that it’s okay to sleep with the spouses of other people and then have their spouse killed so you can have that person to yourself). At this point, God had already promised David an eternal lineage of kings. The ball of salvation for all mankind was already rolling. Had David been allowed to continue along the line of the actions that lead to Uriah’s death, the lineage to Jesus could have been permanently sullied.

Instead, God sends Nathan to have a chat with the king. David knew what he did was wrong—he did it all in secret, after all. But it wasn’t until it was made public that he was able to deal with it.

It’s never comfortable to have someone else know about your sin. We’d all like to keep our secrets, well, secret. But without acknowledgement, there can be no healing.

Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

Nathan replied, “Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin.”

2 Samuel 12:13-14 (NLT)

We must ask this: it is easier to live with the secret of our sin or to out ourselves and be freed from it?

Daily Bible reading: 2 Samuel 10-12, Luke 19:29-48